Sunday, May 08, 2016


Sunday Reflection: Water and dust

I found myself this week deep in the San Joaquin Valley of California, an area between the coastal range and the Sierra Nevada. It is mostly an agricultural area, growing most of America's almonds, pistachios, and raisins.

It's a weird place though. I was mostly in almond territory, and it's an unusual kind of agriculture. The trees are planted in rows, hundreds of acres, surrounded by brown and dry high desert. The agriculture is only possible by using huge amounts of water, which is a precious commodity as the drought in California stretches into another year (despite some improvements in parts of the state this year). The fight over water is everywhere in the Valley-- on signs by the road and the words of angry people on the radio.  The agricultural interests want to draw more water from the rivers, and are meeting resistance from environmentalists.

All the talk of water fascinated me. In Minnesota, it is all around us, unbidden. You can't go ten blocks without running into a lake, and rivers go through people's backyards. We don't talk about it; it's just there.

Jesus lived in a desert culture, and he talked about water a lot. When he sees the woman at the well, he talks to her about water. Baptism becomes a part of Christianity, and his first apostles are fisherman.

Such a simple thing, and so precious, necessary to thrive. To understand how precious it is, though, you have to go to where it is dry and walk there for a while.

An historian of the American West told me that the story mostly boils down to water and Mormons. You would think railroads and oil and lots of other things might loom large--but my source was an insightful person.
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